An Introduction to Slip Forming Construction Method
Slip forming, continuous poured, continuously formed, or slipform construction is a construction method in which concrete is poured into a continuously moving form. Slip forming is used for tall structures (such as bridges, towers, buildings, and dams), as well as horizontal structures, such as roadways. Slipforming enables continuous, non-interrupted, cast-in-place “flawless” (i.e. no joints) concrete structures which have superior performance characteristics to piecewise construction using discrete form elements.
Slip forming relies on the quick-setting properties of concrete, and requires a balance between quick-setting capacity and workability. Concrete needs to be workable enough to be placed into the form and consolidated (via vibration), yet quick-setting enough to emerge from the form with strength. This strength is needed because the freshly set concrete must not only permit the form to “slip” by the concrete without disturbing it, but also support the pressure of the new concrete as well as resist collapse caused by the vibration of the compaction machinery.
In vertical slip forming the concrete form may be surrounded by a platform on which workers stand, placing steel reinforcing rods into the concrete and ensuring a smooth pour. Together, the concrete form and working platform are raised by means of hydraulic jacks. Generally, the slipform rises at a rate which permits the concrete to harden by the time it emerges from the bottom of the form.
In horizontal slip forming for pavement and traffic separation walls concrete is laid down, vibrated, worked, and settled in place while the form itself slowly moves ahead. This method was initially devised and utilized in Interstate Highway construction initiated by the Eisenhower administration during the 1950s.